– Endocrinology –
As an endocrinologist, I work in the Endocrinology department, where I do blood tests of patients who have various types of hormonal disorders, research their conditions and offer the most adequate therapy. Most conditions are treatable with hormonal supplements and suppression, but in some cases a surgery could be the only option.
Endocrinology is a medical specialty that is focused on the endocrine system, its development, structure, functions and her specific products – the hormones and the way that they function in the body. In a broader sense, Endocrinology is a complex science, which includes morphology, physiology, patophysiology, biochemistry, pharmacology of the endocrine system, pathology of the endocrine related diseases and the chemistry of hormones. Endocrinology – a science for the pathology and the physiology of the endocrine system is a rather young medical specialty. Throughout history, the glands have been thought to serve for numerous other purposes – the real functions of these organs were discovered in the 19th century.
‘Endocrines’ are the glands which secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system of an organism. Despite the glands, part of the endocrine system are also the stomach, the duodenum, the small intestine and the pancreas which produce a large quantity of gastrointestinal hormones and thus regulating the functions of the stomach, the pancreas and the gall bladder.
Endocrine system related diseases and treatment
Since hormones serve for regulation of all body functions, the disruption of their balance lead to various diseases and conditions. There are three types of endocrine related diseases – hormone excess due to a hypersecretion of an endocrine gland, hormone deficiency caused by the hyposecretion of an endocrine gland and tumors of the glands.
Some of our patients have Adrenaline Disorders which are caused by an inadequate functioning of the Adrenal glands. Adrenaline insufficiency is a condition in which is caused by the incapability of the adrenaline glands to produce steroid hormones and more specifically cortisol. The symptoms of this condition include disorientation, weight loss, hypoglycemia, fatigue, muscle weakness and dehydration.
Since this condition is caused by a hormone deficiency, we can treat it with Cortisol or Aldosterone tablets to restore the hormone balance. The excess of adrenaline hormones in conditions like Conn’s syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome is a hypersecretion of cortisol or aldosterone. Some of the symptoms of this condition are a high blood pressure, headaches, obesity, muscle weakness and irregular menstruation in women.
Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by medication prescribed for the treatment of other diseases or contraceptive pills. This condition can be treated by slowly stopping the medication and if it is caused by an adrenal adenoma – it can be removed with a surgery.
We have a lot of patients with Glucose Homeostasis disorders – this includes diabetes type 1 and 2, in which the peptide hormone insulin is either not produced enough by the pancreas or the cells are not responding adequately to the insulin produced. Some of the patient are in serious condition and are hard to manage.
Sugar is an essential substance for all mammals and the low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) can cause seizures and unconsciousness, while the high blood sugar can lead to blindness, renal failure and neuropathy.
Type 1 diabetes is in most cases inherited, usually diagnosed at a young age and is caused by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, while type 2 diabetes is more common in adults and is caused by an insulin resistance in cells and a low insulin level.
Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by obesity, a poor diet and low physical activity. We can treat these conditions in their early stages with advises for change in lifestyle, weight loss, or prescribe anti-diabetic medication like metformin and insulin injections. Please note that the ‘diabetic diet‘ is one of the few proven diets that actually achieve weight loss
Some patients come with Thyroid Disorders — The thyroid is the largest endocrine gland which produces hormones responsible for the metabolism, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance though calcitonin, a hormone responsible for the calcium levels in the body. When stimulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone, the so called thyroid hormones, the thyroid produces — thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
Like most hormone-related conditions, the abnormal activity of the thyroid gland can lead to a large number of health problems. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid hormones are not produced due to a lack iodine in the diet, a non-functioning thyroid or an autoimmune condition which is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Some of the symptoms include feeling cold, fatigue, low concentration, weight gain, hoarse voice and poor hearing. This condition can be prevented by adding iodine to common food like salt or the consumption of dairy and fish, which are rich in iodine.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition caused by an abnormally high levels of the thyroid hormones, which is caused by the autoimmune Grave’s disease or an inflammation of the thyroid, hypersecretion of the thyroid-stimulating hormone and the consumption of thyroid hormone tablets among other reasons. Symptoms include weight loss, anxiety, intolerance to heat, muscle aches, weakness, delirium, excessive thirst and urination. This condition can be treated with anti-thyroid drugs, beta-blockers, a diet poor in iodine or by operative removal of the thyroid.
The cases Sex hormone disorders are not rare – These hormones are responsible for some of the most significant changes in the human body during growth, they affect the development and functions of the reproductive organs and the secondary characteristic of both sexes as the facial hair and the deeper voice in men. These hormones are known as gonadal or sex steroids, whose imbalance can cause irregularities and unwanted results in both genders.
This includes Disorders of sex development (DSD, a controversial term) which described numerous irregularities of sexual development during infancy, including the Androgen Insensitivity syndrome in which a male person, does not respond to testosterone; hypogonadism which is related to the failure of the testes or ovary to synthesize testosterone or estrogen, which results in defective primary or secondary sexual development, premature menopause or infertility.
Other related disorders are a delayed puberty which can be caused by the under-nutrition or disease, or an unusually early puberty (precocious) which can be caused by a trauma of the brain, tumor or even some foods. Most of these conditions can be treated by suppressing the hormone production, testosterone or estrogen therapy and in the cases of DSD or intersex, there is an option for a surgical intervention.